'Ant-Man And The Wasp' Interview: Evangeline Lilly's Wasp Is Ready To Fly

Just a few steps from the set of Marvel Studios' Ant-Man and the Wasp, a few other writers and I caught up with actress Evangeline Lilly, who has graduated from Scott Lang's begrudging trainer/love interest in the original Ant-Man to a full-fledged superhero in her own right in this sequel. During a break from filming, the lively actress spoke with us about how different Hope van Dyne will be from the last time we saw her on screen, the cool gadgets and technology her character utilizes in the film, her approach to stunt training, and a whole lot more.

Read on for our full Ant-Man and the Wasp Evangeline Lilly interview.

Ant-Man and the Wasp Evangeline Lilly Interview

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Evangeline Lilly: Welcome to Atlanta.

Two years ago you were saying that you wanted Michelle Pfeiffer for the role of Janet van Dyne. I'm curious how influential you wound up being in that decision.

Four years ago, for the record. *smiles* Gosh, I honestly don't think I had anything to do with the decision. *laughs* I swear to God the stars just aligned in my favor. Maybe I manifested it. Maybe I just thought on it so long and so hard and wanted it so badly, I made it happen. But nobody ever really officially came to me and said, 'Evangeline, we would like the official word on your opinion for who should play the original Wasp,' no. *laughs*

Have you and Michelle met yet?

We have met. I don't know if any of you were at Comic-Con...

Yes, that was great.

Oh my God, for you that was great. Imagine how great it was for me! *laughs* I was so excited. I met Michelle doing a Comic-Con video. And sometimes in this industry you get excited to meet people and then you meet them and you're like, 'Ohhh. I wish I hadn't met them, 'cause the bubble was so much better. I wanna go back to my bubble.' And she didn't burst my bubble. She was wonderful. Very cool lady.

What about her initially made you say, 'I want Michelle Pfeiffer for Janet'? What quality of her acting?

I wish it was that deep and beautiful. She's so hot. *laughs* And she was the Catwoman. And as a child, I fantasized about being her as the Catwoman. I mean obviously Michelle Pfeiffer is an incredible actress, and consummate in all ways. But this is a superhero movie. So, to a certain extent, it's just like living out all of your geek fantasies. And having Michelle Pfeiffer as my mom was kinda one of my geek fantasies.

Ant-Man and the Wasp lab

Can you tell us a little bit about how Hope and Hank in this one – you were on the right side of the law in the first movie. This time it sounds like maybe you're a bit more on the dangerous side of things. Tell us about that.

Well, we finished Ant-Man on the wrong side of the law. We did implode a building. So, yeah, Hope and Hank at this point, because of Germany, because of Civil War, they're a little bit on the run. They're on the lam. We have technology that would be considered a super power in the Marvel-verse. At that point in time, you're not allowed to have that independently. So our life has dramatically changed – not for the better, in our opinion. And it's made our methods of working very unconventional. They've gone from him being a stodgy old man who just keeps to himself to being reclusive. In a weird twist of fate, I'm like a convict on the run again. For anyone who is a Lost fan that might [be familiar]. But I like it. It's fun.

How does the Wasp's approach being a superhero differ from Ant-Man's approach?

Oh my God. Hope van Dyne and Scott Lang are two birds of a very, very different feather. The question would be easier answered in how are they similar. They can both shrink. *laughs* Of course, Scott is like just incredibly, loveably easygoing and relaxed about things. Even when it seems like things are as dire as they can be, you have this sense that he's kind of okay inside. Hope is generally not okay inside. But I think what's exciting about playing the Wasp now is there is this incredible satisfaction in Hope, something that she has been waiting for her whole life, which is essentially an affirmation from her father has come. And it came in the form of this mantle. It came in the form of this suit. So now that she's wearing it and she's exercising those muscles that she has wanted to exercise all her life, she's in a really different place emotionally when we start the film. And hopefully you'll be able to see that and feel that instantly. To the extent that sometimes I get nervous that the world will watch and go, 'Is that even Hope van Dyne? I mean, come on!' But I think that that's wonderful to show that people do evolve and change and that something as profound as your relationship with your father can have an effect on and a reverberation in every aspect of your life.

Can you tell us about the different designs of the suit? Do we get to see the transformation from that into what you're wearing now?

Well, when we pick up this film, the timeline is such that it's two years after you last saw Hope van Dyne. So a lot has happened in two years and a lot that you, unfortunately, don't get to see, that I know, personally, I would love to see. Instead of seeing her evolved into a superhero, I think that the leap we take with the audience is we all believed by the end of Ant-Man she's ready to be a superhero, that there doesn't need to necessarily be that kind of origins journey of why and how and learning the skills it requires to a superhero. But instead we make that leap of faith of saying, 'You know she's kickass. So let her just do that and be that, and then let's explore some of the other emotional throughlines of her life and her story.'

How did you feel putting on the suit for the first time?

Well, the first time I put on the suit, it didn't fit. (laughs) So it was very anti-climactic. It was like, 'This doesn't work. Why is my bum flat? I have a really good bum, guys. Come on. Work with me here!' So it was four months of in and out of suits and fitting and tweaking and tapering at the right spots and letting out at the right spots and making everything fit like a glove to my body, which is very, very difficult. And our costume team are wildly talented people, and we brought on this one particular seamstress, April, who has worked with dancers before and just has an uncanny sense of a woman's body and what clothes need to do on that body to make it sing. She has miraculously made my legs look a lot longer than they really are, which was one of my first requests (laughs). Once it was perfect, once the suit came to a place where I put it on and you could feel everyone in the room went, 'Oh, there she is.' And that was fuckin' cool. And then it was like they couldn't get it off of me. I was like, 'No, just let me wear it a little longer!' And I'm dancing around the room. I should've been fighting around the room, but I'm not actually The Wasp, I'm Evangeline Lilly. Hi, I dance. *laughs*

Is it comfortable? Atlanta summers are not the greatest for fully form-fitting wear.

I think that it's pretty darn good. I mean, it's all leather, so clearly it's warm. I'm wearing three layers of clothing, so obviously it's a touch difficult to look small. So I'm making sure that I'm not eating too many donuts in the morning, all that. *laughs* But it's pretty comfortable. It breathes, 'cause it is natural fibers. When it's really hot, it's really hot. But mostly I've been on the sound stage in this suit. I've also been stunt training in the suit, because I've been trying to condition my body to get used to the restraints, to get used to the heat, to get used to the resistance, which is really difficult. Some of the poses that Hope strikes when she fights – every superhero should have a great fight style. So, we've been designing Hope's fight style and some of the poses that would be signature to her are very difficult to accomplish in the suit, because the suit really pushes back. And so, I kinda just stay in good shape. That's how I like to be. That's how I live. I always have. So I was thinking, 'Oh, I don't have to work out or do anything to get ready for this role. I'll just be myself. And I'm fit, so it's fine.' And then I put the suit on and tried to swing some punches, and after ten minutes of mitts I was like *gasps* 'I'm dying!' So I realized I might need to do a little more conditioning to play a superhero in a form-fitting leather suit.

Can you talk a little about the regiment for stunt training and fight training in this movie?

I learned some lessons on the first one, and mainly I also have listened to my co-star, Paul Rudd, who is very candid about the fact that we are covered from head to toe. There isn't an inch of us that shows when we are fighting, 'cause we're in containment suits. And so, he's definitely had some kind of wise, let-me-give-you-some-advice talks with me, which is *whispers* 'They'll never use you! *laughs* So, you might as well let the stunt people do what they do and focus on your performance.' And so a lot of my stunt training has revolved around understanding the shapes and understanding the style so that when my stunt person accomplishes an inhuman feat – which they must, 'cause my character can shrink and fly and is skilled in martial arts, so what they can do is incredible and they're mostly on wires with this character – I have to land that, come out, and deliver a line in a way that seems to marry what she just did. So I'm learning mostly the style more than actually getting into the core basics of breaking down martial arts and breaking down how to do flips and learning how to get my legs over my head. I can't do that. I'm not that flexible. But I do mitts, 'cause I love them. And she needs to be able to punch and not look like she can't punch, not look like Scott Lang when he punches *laughs*.

And then also finding the personality for the stunt people. So we work together in front of a mirror and we'll try different things together. And often, they might do a fight move that looks exactly the way you would actually want to injure someone. And I'll say, 'Okay, but wouldn't it be pretty if...?' And we'll throw some flair into there that gives it the flavor of the comic books. And I don't know if any of you've spent some time online looking at Wasp images, but she is very, very graceful in the comic books. She's very feminine. She's not a kind of legs apart, grounded, gritty [fighter]. She's got pointed toes and long limbs and she's very elegant. And I really wanted to hang onto that. Marvel is very good at modernizing their superheroes, but I always think you want to taste the original 1960s character you first fell in love with. So we're really trying to do that with the fight style. I influence that a lot with the stunt people.

Can you tell us about being in the Quantum Realm? We know that a good portion of the movie is going to take place there.

That's not true. *laughs* Not much of it, no. Am I allowed to expound? Can I expound?

Publicist: No, I think you said the perfect thing.

Lilly: OK. *laughs* OK.

Can you talk about how the suit actually functions, because for Ant-Man he's got a button that makes him shrink. Do you have a button, and how do the wings work in conjunction with the suit itself?

By the way, these are important questions. I was like, 'Guys, this has to make sense, or I'm not doing it.' I need answers to these technical questions. I like living by internal rules. Even if nobody knows they're there, I need them. So, I don't have a button. My suit is...it's an upgrade from Scott Lang's suit that he was wearing, 'cause he was wearing Hank's original suit from the 1960s. So, what we were able to do with technology and my suit, I have blasters on my wrists. I have my wings. Essentially there is like a reaction system to what I am thinking. So I don't have to do anything physically to activate shrinking wings, blasters, growing, none of that. I just think it and it happens.

Kind of like how they control the ants in the first movie?

Exactly. Yeah, similar to that. And I think also similar to Iron Man, because you never see him press buttons or do anything. Things just happen. So, I assume there's like a tech – I kind of imagine, 'cause I need to imagine things – that there is something hooked up to my brain through the helmet and somehow it's reading what I'm thinking. Space-age stuff.


Ant-Man and the Wasp arrives in theaters on July 6, 2018.